Kelly Bailey and Rachel Thursfield, LoveBites: “We wanted to bring canapés back into fashion”
- Credit: Archant
When canape queens Kelly Bailey and Rachel Thursfield get together, there’s not a vol au vent in sight
If you thought canapes meant a tray full of soggy vol au vents, wedges of dreary quiche and wrinkly sausages on sticks, you've obviously never been to a party hosted by Kelly Bailey and Rachel Thursfield.
The co-owners of Cheltenham canapes business LoveBites serve up show-stopping bites of deliciousness that not only taste out of this world but look like mini works of culinary art.
From a smoked salmon cone piled with beetroot Chantilly and wasabi caviar to deconstructed lemon and yuzu spoons, with spun rose sugar and raspberry crush, this is bespoke eating that embraces all the style and substance of the latest culinary trend of molecular gastronomy.
Wedding couples, car companies and party people can't get enough of their mini masterpieces that can be tailored to fit any theme, colour or brand you care to name - all in a scrumptious mouthful.
This year LoveBites is celebrating the fifth birthday of a business that started on Kelly's kitchen table with a few lovingly created canapes that sparked the genesis of an idea for a new take on an old favourite.
"It was at the beginning of the new culinary trend of molecular gastronomy using different processes and food to create different textures," said Rachel, the business brains behind the company. "Kelly had produced these amazing goats cheese bombs and we were messing about with colours.
"Traditional canapes had become tired, soggy things and we wanted to reinvent them and bring them back into fashion again. It was a light bulb moment and we thought there's a gap in the market for something really special, why don't we do something with this."
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They began small with just the two friends doing everything, from designing and creating the canapes to sorting out all the paperwork that goes with setting up a new business, but five years down the line they have a team behind them that can sometimes swell to 25 for a big event.
Kelly had run her own award-winning hotel near Ross-on-Wye but once her children came along she returned to Cheltenham and changed direction. Food, however, has always been her passion, and creativity with it, her strong point.
Now LoveBites provides canapes to everyone from high end car companies like Mercedes and Aston Martin, to product launches, private parties, and wedding couples after something different.
"Recently we did a wedding for 200 guests and catered for seven canapes per person and that's a lot of food; almost 2,000 canapes in about an hour and a half," said Rachel, who reckons they are now producing more than 30,000 every year.
These days canape aficionados are favouring the likes of parmesan biscuits, savoury mousses, edible flowers and twisted veg. Food made to look like something it's not is also popular. "We make things that look like little cherry tomatoes but are really chicken liver parfait, moulded and dipped into a tomato gel, with a chive on top to look like the stalk," said Rachel.
"We also do lemon posset spoons and jellied cubes with soft lemon inside, in a range of neon colours made with things like blueberries. Metallic colours and bronzes are also very popular now, and we'll also use spun sugar as decoration."
LoveBites uses local produce when available, with recipes including twisted Evesham asparagus, Coln Valley salmon mousse and shredded Cotswold lamb spoons.
They've also diversified a bit with a new food trend called grazing tables coming out of Australia. "You decorate a banqueting table with props or branding and incorporate that into the food by way of colour or themes, and it's a mix of canapes and high-end staple buffet food such as cheeses, fruits, artisan breads and meat."
All this gastronomic excellence makes you wonder how big a kitchen the LoveBites team needs when preparing for an event, but Rachel says they don't need a big space. "We are self sufficient and can slip ourselves into a corner and beaver away. We do a lot of the prep work beforehand, but we have to put them together on site so that they're super-fresh."
They also travel far and wide to bring their little bites of delight to a wider audience. They once did a private party at the Chelsea Flower Show, with themed canapes using flowers, butterflies and everything garden-ey, including chocolate soil.
"Because our canapes are so varied, there's always going to be something that people like, and we usually make a wide selection, so the same thing doesn't keep on coming out. We love to inject a bit of sparkle into our food."
LoveBites can be contacted on 01242 300322 or go to lovebites.events to see their work for yourself.